New Haven looking to protect funeral home workers as front line workers, urging families not to gather to mourn as coronavirus cases, deaths rise

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker reported Thursday the city now has 1,313 cases of coronavirus and 43 related deaths. The mayor also addressing how to protect the city’s funeral home workers and families needed to mourn lost loved-ones during the pandemic.

The mayor said he spoke to funeral directors Thursday about how families can expect to mourn during the pandemic.

“Families should not expect and should not advocate to have funerals that bring people together because that puts many people at risk. And instead, do their best to mourn remotely…I think that’s tough for everyone to hear, but it’s critical to protect our own family members,” Mayor Elicker explained.

Further updates from April 20, 2020

The mayor reported the demographics of positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths still consistently affect the African-American community. 50% of the city’s coronavirus deaths are from the African-American community.

The city’s hot spots remain the Fairhaven and Newhallville areas.

Elicker emphasized the importance of wearing face coverings in stores and in other places where you can’t control how close you are to others. This as Governor Ned Lamont’s executive order that all CT residents have to wear face coverings while in public places goes into effect Monday, April 20 at 8 p.m.

RELATED: Executive Order requiring people to wear face masks in public goes into effect tonight

Mayor Elicker also updated the city’s first-responder coronavirus numbers, reporting the fire department now has 17 positive cases within the force, and the police department has seven cases.

The mayor also took a moment to thank the App Foundation in Monday’s press conference; they have donated 2,000 face shields to the department to continue protecting those first-responders.

Another type of front-line worker the city of New Haven is looking to protect is funeral home workers. The city doesn’t have any data on how many funeral home workers have contracted COVID-19, but they say they’re aware of the risk they’re assuming and are taking steps to help them.

Rick Fontana of the city’s Office of Emergency Management explained, “We’ll be working to ensure that any of those establishments that are short and need PPE or assistance, the city is there to help with that.”

Regional Career High School Homeless Isolation Facility Update:

Additionally, New Haven officials report, there are currently four homeless individuals recovering from COVID-19 at the Regional Career High School site and the medical team on site is expecting another patient Monday evening. Additionally, three have been released because they have recovered and fulfilled their 14-day isolation.

The mayor reports there are two hotel sites the city has been able to secure for homeless individuals in partnership with the State.

We’re working on expanding access to hotel rooms to make sure that people have options that are not the street or their cars. And that continues to be the case. Obviously we want to make sure people have some safe place to go.

– Mayor Justin Elicker/ New Haven

He went on to say that his staff has been working hard on housing the homeless during the pandemic while shelters are closed, but the process to get hotels to open up is taking longer than anticipated because of the hotel’s willingness to open up for these individuals.

Rick Fontana emphasized that no homeless individual is being released from the Career facility to the street, saying they are “not turning anyone out of there without a defined plan not to endanger themselves.”

If an individual leaves the facility recovered and has nowhere to go, the city is setting them up in a hotel room while shelters are closed during the pandemic.

Eventually, there will be a transition for these individuals back to homeless shelters. The mayor says his administration maintains their stance against homeless encampments over shelters, even in this time of required social-distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

To rewatch the full press conference from Monday:

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